Over the weekend Delta Air Lines chose to discontinue its group discount rate for the NRA. It joined a couple dozen other companies cutting those ties, but the pushback for Delta, headquartered in Atlanta, was more significant than the others.
Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.
— Delta (@Delta) February 24, 2018
As a follow-up to Saturday morning’s announcement the company issued a statement attempting to satisfy those on both sides of the fight.
Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings. Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.
This is not the first time Delta has withdrawn support over a politically and emotionally charged issue. Last year, Delta withdrew its sponsorship of a theater that staged a graphic interpretation of “Julius Caesar” depicting the assassination of President Trump. Delta supports all of its customers but will not support organizations on any side of any highly charged political issue that divides our nation.
That statement seems to have pissed off more people than it pleased.
Those previously satisfied with the move as a political statement suddenly found that the company really was trying to not make a statement at all. And it opened up many questions about what other issues might have “both sides” where taking a stand could adversely affect business. The company has historically been a vocal supported of Pride parades, for example. Will it now avoid taking a position on that subject?
Still bent out of shape over @Delta's updated PR-spin on their #NRABoycott stance. The airline says it will "not support organizations on any side of a … political issue" dividing America. Great, but really? Racial equality? LGBTQ rights? Women rights? pic.twitter.com/6M8jAVOkma
— Peter C. Harders (@PeterHarders) February 26, 2018
And then there are those who were otherwise upset with the decision and who see the “middle ground” statement as insufficiently generous. One of those happens to be Casey Cagle, Lt. Governor of Georgia. He’s pretty pissed, and it could cost Delta millions of dollars.
I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.
— Casey Cagle (@CaseyCagle) February 26, 2018
Fuel tax exemptions for airlines come an go. Delta last had a significant one in Georgia in 2015, though that ended badly. The carrier is currently pushing the Georgia legislature to bring back something similar to those tax breaks, this time to the tune of $40mm annually. And progress on that front was pretty solid. Right up until this past weekend’s events.
The carrier now appears to be facing a state official willing to operate on a single-issue platform, tying corporate taxes to a group discount for members of a lobbying organization.
Who knows if he’ll stick to that position or not long term. Or whether Delta will really lose out on the $40 million. And, if it does, whether it considers that a fair price for taking the political position it is denying that it took.
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